Cantwell Praises 767 Selection; Says Illegal Subsidy of Airbus Plane Disadvantages U.S. Workers in Tanker Competition

Mid-sized jet is right size to get military tankers closer to the fight

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) today said the 767 air frame selected by Boeing for the tanker competition will be “ready for the fight from day one.” Cantwell’s comments came as Boeing announced its selection of the mid-sized 767 as the air frame it will offer the U.S. military in the competition to build mid-air refueling aircraft. Yesterday, in a Senate Finance Committee hearing, Cantwell said an illegal European government subsidy for a potential competing aircraft in the tanker competition represents an unfair advantage that could skew the competition. In an exchange with U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Cantwell said U.S. workers and businesses would be at a disadvantage in the Pentagon competition if the European Union’s subsidy of the Airbus platform is allowed to stand.
“People are concerned that if that illegal subsidy continues, then basically it’s putting U.S. manufacturers at a disadvantage,” Cantwell told Kirk. The European defense consortium, EADS, “can make the plane as cheap as they want,” Cantwell continued. “They can make the bottom line as cheap as they want because the [European] governments are continuing to bail them out.”  
EADS and Northrop Grumman are expected to propose building the KC-45 tanker, a larger aircraft that Cantwell said would carry hidden extra costs, including the need to enlarge runways and ramp facilities at military bases around the world. The platform for the Northrop/EADS tanker is based on a civilian Airbus plane developed with the help of European government subsidies. Kirk told Cantwell that the interim decision regarding a U.S. complaint about unfair competition stemming from the subsidies is expected to be finalized by the World Trade Organization (WTO) within a few weeks.
Cantwell hailed today’s announcement by Boeing. The mid-sized 767 will enable the U.S. Air Force to get more tankers to more bases around the world, providing support for U.S. military aircraft closer to the fight. Boeing’s proven track record building the tanker will ensure the new Air Force fleet’s success. Boeing has designed, built and supported more than 2,000 tankers over the past 60 years.
“The 767 is smaller and more agile in combat situations and therefore more survivable for our fighting men and women,” Cantwell said. “Because Boeing is already building the military version of the aircraft, a 767-based tanker fleet will be ready to fight from day one.”